SuBLime, the leading global English-language yaoi manga publisher, delivers the launch of new series A STRANGE AND MYSTIFYING STORY, available now after being previously out of print.Read More
*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review.
Malachi is the most talented male angel healer in a generation but despite his inflated ego about his talents, one thing still bothers him. Mal is an orphan and he's on the search for his mother. He returns to his childhood orphanage and the current priest working there, Tobias, tells him that despite it not being exactly within the rules, he will let Mal look at his records. However, it seems this mother's name is missing. As they dig deeper, Mal and Tobias discover a dark secret hidden among the priests which will put both their lives in danger.
The whole thing could have been an interesting longer book but as a short story; it feels rushed. If given more time, the world could have had more time to build and thusly would have been better understood. The relationship between Mal and Tobias would have had more time to develop so they have real chemistry instead of just a line drop about how they've been working together for two months. A concept with potential but not enough room to grow, I give this a 3 out of 5.
*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review and is rated 18+
Marcus Allegro travels to the City of Dreams to study art under Sebastian Moreaux; a master painter and well known to bed any willing student he comes across, shunning any sort of commitment. When he sets his sights on Marcus, Sebastian is baffled when the young man absolutely refuses to add his name to Sebastian's long list of forgotten conquests. This makes Sebastian want him even more but Marcus is looking for true love, which Sebastian takes great pains to avoid.
I feel if given more space to grow, this story would have more of an impact. I would have had a better understanding of how magic fits in this world, how artists have The Eye, how Sebastian came to be so guarded, how Marcus came to be such a romantic, and gotten to know them both more; I would be more invested in their romance and in their world. Coming in at a scant 59 pages as it is, this story is more like a sweet breeze; enjoyable but gone too fast. 3 out of 5.
*This book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review and is rated for 18+
The Titan, Echidna, has escaped from her underworld prison and vows vengeance on the Olympians who put her there. But the power of the old gods now resides in their descendants. Twins Adrian and Annelise have been unaware of their godly lineage until Echidna attacks them and an artist named Zack reveals himself to be another descendant of the gods. They must defeat Echidna before she destroys them and takes back the world under her rule.
While an interesting concept, the beginning felt so slow, I had trouble getting into it. I also had issues believing these characters were in their late 40's. The way they speak, you would think they were in their late 20's or early 30's. And this applies to all three of our main characters. If you want a believable set of older characters, Deadlight Jack is a perfect example. When I am reminded of their age in this book, they all seem terribly immature.
The best parts of this book for me were how the mythology is intertwined with real life. I have always been a huge fan of Greek Mythology so seeing the legends brought to life was cool. As for the romance elements, they are an afterthought. Zack and Adrian have this love/hate relationship with these random moments of intimacy as if to say "B.T. Dubz, they're in love now."
All in all, it was cool to see the mythic creatures and characters again but the rest is oddly framed. 3 out of 5.
*This book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review and is rated for 18+
Professor Killian Barth teaches the history of witchcraft and has a unique perspective on the matter considering he is indeed a witch. He is the most powerful male witch to come along in generations. Keeping his identity a secret from regular humans, he catches the eye of the quantum physics professor; Blane Genneau. Their attraction is instant but Killian is being forced to marry another witch, Lavender, in order to save the witch race by pumping out magical children. But not only is Killian gay, Lavender is in love with someone else, and Killian finds the magnetism between him and Blane is too strong to resist. There's also the added rub that if a witch sleeps with a human, it will drain the witch's power away. Can Killian find a way to not only be with the one he loves but overcome prejudice against humans, find a way to save his race, and convince a man of science to believe magic is real?
First off, I have to point out that Lain made Lavender a likable character. It's so easy to fall into that trope of one of the people in the forced marriage being a complete horror to make the main character look even more put upon. But Lavender is a kind, sweet person and even tries to help Killian whenever she can. That was very refreshing.
While this book was decently written and cute, sometimes it felt a little contrived. It has this fanfiction like quality to it where everyone is too perfect, too pretty, and sex literally tears the skies apart it's so good. I mean, geez, nobody even had an interesting mole or tattoo... I also would have liked to see the fantasy elements explored more. I know that they're technically supposed to take a back seat to the romance but there are some interesting concepts here that I felt were glossed over to get the couple where they needed to be. But I do give this book credit for turning a couple tropes on their heads, having some fun characters and steamy romance scenes. 3 out of 5.
After the craziness of Unquiet Dreams, Keno is now a 'guest' of the wizard Kheper in the Egyptian lands and was forced to give in to the violent nature of his ancestor in order to save Mason's life and his own. As the unknown Darkness spreads through the Dreamlands, Samojirou takes Mason, Wolf, and Tholf to rescue Keno while Keno and Kheper investigate the Darkness. But will Keno want to be rescued after taking a life?
Keno's internal struggle about having to kill is the major part of his character development in this book. His ancestor was discussed in such hushed, ominous tones, Keno never wanted to be anything like him. There isn't time to dwell or escape his pain for long as he works with Kheper; who turns out to be a pretty cool magician and a man of honor - not at all as creepy as he seemed in the previous book.
With two teams coming at the Darkness from two different directions, we get some really detailed and rich writing. You get a sense of realness to a very unreal world. But darnit, if it doesn't end on a cliffhanger! Man, do I wanna see the Dreamlands come together to beat the Darkness. I'm sure other cultures along with the Japanese and Egyptians will come into play. More of the Vikings would be cool! It would be such an epic showdown. 4.5 out of 5.
The siege on Nippon continues as the Trust has allied with the Egyptians and the lords of Nippon must band together to take back their lands. With the conflict intensifying, Mason tries to find a place under Tamazusa's protection and Keno struggles against the brutal nature of his ancestor as battle brings it seeping to the surface.
In this book, Keno and Samojiro are headed into "annoying couple" territory. This is a personal pet peeve of mine and I'm sure people won't agree with me; I have read many a series where the couple you've wanted to get together for the entire time keep sending the narrative to a screeching halt so they can bone as much as possible. This is not to say it ruins the book but I found myself skipping over their love scenes to get back to the war going on.
Other than that, I love how this book is not perfectly wrapped up for the next installment. As I received this series in a 4 book bundle (and reviewed one at a time so it didn't take forever to get these books reviewed for you guys), I was wondering if each book would have a self-contained antagonist or an overarching one. All these little threads of manipulation carry through all three books and their effects don't just disappear. Out of the three, this one is the most tense and ends with characters injured, separated, and floundering as to what to do next. The writing level and style carry through seamlessly and seeing all these different cultures in the Dreamlands is very cool! Very interesting overall. 4.5 out of 5.
Continuing some time after the first book, Keno and Samojirou are firmly in their relationship and Keno is more comfortable living under his persona as Sakura - a female consort - in order to hide his identity; as Keno is the incarnation of Samojirou's former lover who imprisoned Samojirou in the dreamlands in the first place. In addition, different players in the Dreamlands are hatching plans with the Trust for total control of the Dreamlands; sending Mason, Wolf, and McGann there again with the mission to form an alliance. It's all a lie, of course, and the three humans are stuck in a land under siege.
I'm glad we get to learn more about the Dreamlands and how they work in this book. Ivey has a real talent for world building so the setting is compelling. Tamazusa is an awesome character and I liked hearing from her. She is the one who tells the majority of the story and takes focus off os Keno and Samojirou's relationship. It's there, complete with smutty details so grownups only for this book, but the focus really is on the impending war and how they all will deal with it. Even though the book drags a little in some places - usually because the characters themselves are stuck - and there are a lot of unanswered questions when the book is over. I'm assuming it's because these answers will be in the following book and it is more interesting (in my opinion) if not every book in a series has a nicely wrapped up ending.
If you're expecting more of the male/male romantic elements and less fantasy, I can see why you may be disappointed here. Two other relationships are introduced, but the crux of the novel really is the deceptions, the battles, and whatever overall plans the Trust has for the Dreamlands. Otherwise, this book had me hooked and I look forward to seeing what happens next. 4 out of 5 for me.
For more reviews and writing, check out Lenni's blog.
Keno Inusaka is a hacker who stumbled into the computers of a secret organization called The Trust. This organization prides itself on hunting demons so they kidnap Keno and keep him prisoner, letting the world think he's dead. When the facility he works in is breached, Keno finds himself in the Dreamlands; living among the same sort of creatures The Trust kills. He is given as a gift to Samojirou Aboshi, a demon, who treats Keno with more respect than anyone at The Trust ever did. When a team of soldiers come to bring him back, Keno isn't sure if he wants to go, having found a place where he is safe and loved. But The Trust doesn't want to let him go.
This is a pretty awesome first outing for a fantasy series. It's well developed with fun world-building, interesting characters, and an engaging story. Keno and Samojirou are a cute couple and their relationship develops slowly over time. They don't jump into bed right away because Keno's past abuse is addressed and worked through with patience and care; so there isn't much in the way of out and out smut. There are some steamy love scenes so this book is for mature audiences.
If I had to complain about one thing, it would be that the story is terribly short on decent human beings. A lot of fantasy or science fiction stories have "the monsters are more human than the humans" angle but I found myself thinking too often that there are too many assholes in this book. It made me kinda depressed! Other than that, 4.5 out of 5 for this book! I look forward to the next one!
For more reviews and silly things, check out Haunting Hypatia.